Composer/keyboardist/producer Elodie Lauten creates operas, music for dance and theatre, orchestral, chamber and instrumental music. Not a household name, she is however widely recognized by historians as a leading figure of post-minimalism and a force on the new music scene, with 20 releases on a number of labels.

Her opera Waking in New York, Portrait of Allen Ginsberg was presented by the New York City Opera (2004 VOX and Friends) in May 2004, after being released on 4Tay, following three well-received productions. OrfReo, a new opera for Baroque ensemble was premiered at Merkin Hall by the Queen's Chamber Band, whose New Music Alive CD (released on Capstone in 2004) includes Lauten's The Architect. The Orfreo CD was released in December 2004 on Studio 21. In September 2004 Lauten was composer-in-residence at Hope College, MI. Lauten's Symphony 2001, was premiered in February 2003 by the SEM Orchestra in New York. In 1999, Lauten's Deus ex Machina Cycle for voices and Baroque ensemble (4Tay) received strong critical acclaim in the US and Europe. Lauten's Variations On The Orange Cycle (Lovely Music, 1998) was included in Chamber Music America's list of 100 best works of the 20th century.

Born in Paris, France, she was classically trained as a pianist since age 7. She received a Master's in composition from New York University where she studied Western composition with Dinu Ghezzo and Indian classical music with Ahkmal Parwez. Daughter of jazz pianist/drummer Errol Parker, she is also a fluent improviser. She became an American citizen in 1984 and has lived in New York since the early seventies

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Monday, June 06, 2005
Non-Linear Models

Should a piece of music be a reflection of the order or disorder of the universe? This is a very old thought but there still may be some bang to it.

The partisans of order: The Pythagorean model is one where numerical ratios and proportions translate from the cosmos to the musical scale. Plato tried to hang on to something ‘solid’ with his now called “Platonic Solids” representing universal forms such as the icosahedron.

The partisans of constant change: the Heraclitus model is that of constant change, as is the I Ching model, where one situation/hexagram flows into another. Aristotle also believed that reality is constantly changing – but that there is an underlying eternal universe with no beginning and no end… which reminds me of the famous ‘one hand clapping’ Buddhist koan, as it points to the same idea.

Modern science is now looking at non-linear dynamical systems explaining laws of seemingly unpredictable events… like weather systems; the world is not a static cause-and-effect reality, but a constant flux of ever-changing energies and events.

How can these ideas translate into musical models and styles? The idea of continuity in music is very much in question in new compositions. A lot of new music is full of silences and ruptures. There is a reflection of a chaotic, constant change craving the unpredictable. On the other hand, the classic minimalist approach is based on the continuity: everlasting drones, constant tonal center, constant rhythms. Paradoxically, serialism makes music based on totally controlled and predictable systems, but to the ear it sounds unpredictable except for the fact that there is no way to guess what the next phrase is going to be.

Should music be ‘in tune’ with the universe, and with what exactly? Be a reflection of chaotic events such as the weather? Or tune into the constants such as the earth’s rotation?